The world's best surfers were back at the world's most dangerous wave today for Round 2 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti, stop no. 7 of 11 on the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour. It was a day of epic performances and the ASP Top 34 put on a clinic in tube riding as they took on challenging 6-to-8 foot Teahupo'o to fight for a place in Round 3.
Josh Kerr (AUS), current World No. 10, got off to a quick start in the first heat of the day against fellow countryman Mitch Coleborn. Kerr established an early dominance over the ASP replacement surfer with an excellent 8.83 for his first wave. He went on to post the first nine-point ride of the day for a long tube and narrow escape to put Coleborn in a combination situation and eventually eliminate him from the competition.
"The days leading up to the swell were so mentally draining because you're trying to prepare yourself,” said Josh Kerr. “I was just happy to be lying in bed last night in one piece. Yesterday was a great and historical day for this contest."
After a heavy wipeout on the first day of competition Jordy Smith (ZAF) faced Brett Simpson (USA) in Round 2 Heat 4. The match-up got off to a slow start with Simpson sliding into a small lead. With more than half of the heat complete Smith had posted a single low score of 1.00. A crucial exchange unfolded with both Smith and Simpson trading backhand tubes. The American got the best of the resulting scores and immediately found another barrel, earning his first heat win of the 2014 WCT season, while the South African is eliminated from the competition.
“It’s been a tough year,” said Brett Simpson. “I’ve surfed against a lot of good guys and I’m just stoked to get this win. This is a testing wave. On the one hand you think let me go home, this wave’s going to kill me, but on the other hand you get the waves of your life.”
Travis Logie (ZAF) suffered a foot injury during Round 1 and has withdrawn from the competition. His Round 2 opponent C.J. Hobgood (USA) will advance directly to Round 3.
“My first thought is that I hope that Travis (Logie) is okay,” said C.J. Hobgood. “He was on the back of the ski and his foot hit something. It’s a long year and I hope he’s able to come back. I’ve been on Tour for 13 years and I’ve never had a walkthrough. Hopefully the swell increases tomorrow and I get another chance."
Aritz Aranburu (ESP) started his heat off with a bang, taking off just after the horn and ducking into a hollow barrel for a near-perfect 9.23. Freddy Patacchia (HAW) sat patiently out the back, scoreless through the first half of the heat, but came back with a thick barrel for an excellent 8.17. The Spaniard went on to improve his situation with a quick barrel while Patacchia lost his footing and went down with the white water. An epic exchange unfolded with ten minutes remaining and both surfers earned excellent scores. It was Aranburu's early nine-pointer that kept the Hawaiian at bay and earns him a place in Round 3.
“I was waiting for the big waves,” said Aritz Aranburu. “Luckily I got a great wave at the start and that gave me a lot of confidence. I’m stoked to be part of that heat and I really enjoyed it. This is a contest I really like and it suits me really well.”
The final heat of the day saw Sebastian Zietz (HAW) and Alejo Muniz (BRA) searching for barrels in increasingly difficult sets. When a gem finally rolled in the Hawaiian was ready for it. Zietz air-dropped into a clean barrel, tucking and dragging to maximize tube time, and notching a 9.97, the highest single-wave score of the day. Muniz struggled to post any substantial scores while Zeitz found another clean barrel to secure victory and a place in Round 3.
“I didn’t sleep well last night because I was jittery after yesterday,” said Sebastian Zietz. “It’s not as big today but it’s still really fun and I’m stoked to make it through in such tough conditions.”
The contest was called of following Heat 11 after conditions declined and the final heat of Round 2 will run when competition resumes.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, are calling for:
We’ll see a rebuilding trend of surf through Wednesday as new SW swell fills in all day and peaks late. Some morning sickness/warble is possible Wednesday, with conditions improving through the afternoon as the swell builds, tide drops and SE/ESE trades also build. Thursday will see decreasing, but still strong, surf with favourable ESE trades. Friday will see a further decrease in surf. The next swell of real significance is lining up for Sunday afternoon and Monday, although local wind may be unfavourable.